In the days before the manufactured ties-ups at the George Washington Bridge, a former deputy chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sent a second text message about causing “traffic problems” elsewhere, according to newly released documents.
Bridget Anne Kelly wrote Aug. 19 to another Christie ally, David Wildstein, saying: “We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?” One state legislator described the dialogue as reflecting a “juvenile, cavalier attitude.”
The message was among those released today by a state legislative committee investigating lane closures at the bridge from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12, which snarled traffic in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Kelly was referring to a politically influential rabbi in New Jersey, the New York Times (NYT:US) and Bergen Record reported.
Kelly’s firing was announced Jan. 9 by Christie, a Republican eyeing a White House run who has denied any role in the bridge scandal. Lawmakers and federal prosecutors are probing who shut down the lanes and why. Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, has said he believes the traffic jams were meant to punish him for not backing Christie’s re-election last year.
The tie-ups gained national attention in January with the release of a series of redacted messages. They included an exchange on Aug. 13 between Kelly and Wildstein, then Christie’s second-ranking appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote.
“Got it,” Wildstein responded. He submitted his resignation on Dec. 6, and it was effective Jan. 1.
The committee today lifted the redactions on some messages, including the Aug. 19 exchange between Kelly and Wildstein. At the top of one of the messages is a photo that Wildstein sent. The photo is of Mendy Carlebach, a rabbi in South Brunswick, New Jersey, with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, according to The Record.
“I think this qualifies as some sort of stalking,” Kelly wrote. “You are too much.”
“He is Jewish Cid Wilson,” Wildstein wrote in an apparent reference to a man from Leonia, New Jersey, who is active in politics, according to The Record.
“You are really so funny,” Kelly wrote. “He is. No doubt.”
“And he has officially pissed me off,” Wildstein wrote.
“We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?,” Kelly wrote.
“Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed,” Wildstein wrote.
“Perfect,” Kelly wrote.
Carlebach, along with Wildstein attorney Alan Zegas and Kelly attorney Michael Critchley, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the newly released texts.
Carlebach is a Port Authority chaplain who joined Christie at a Sept. 11 memorial at New York City’s Ground Zero in 2011.
The messages were made public after negotiations between Zegas and the lawyer for the legislative committee, Reid Schar, Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, co-chairman of the panel, told reporters in Trenton today.
“There’s no new e-mails that are similar to one that Bridget Kelly sent on Aug. 13, but what it does show is kind of a juvenile, cavalier attitude towards their official responsibilities, joking about the power they had to create traffic or delay flights,” Wisniewski said. “It’s certainly disturbing, and speaks to the need to reform this agency.”
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